Monday, April 7, 2008


I think I have a different view of Rashomon. I think that the story often defines the past more than the truth. I think many people (particularly PBS intellectuals) find this hard to accept. In the world of photography there are photographs or bodies of work that define a time and a place. For example, turn of the century New York was defined by Steiglitz's photograph of the Flatiron building in winter, Brassai is 1930's Paris, Bill Brandt defined England in the 30's and 40's. Even people who are unfamiliar with these works are still influenced by them because other artists use them.

These are photographs that defined a time. Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan created this view of small town America that does not have a lot to do with reality. But their view has become reality for may people (Is this truthiness).

As a photographer I always was looking for the picture that would define a truth. What I see today when I look at people's pictures on line, now that cameras are digital, is that people will put 80 pictures of a party on line. 80 pictures do not get you closer to the truth, they get you farther away.

Since I started looking at kid's accounts on Facebook I see a lot of this random uploading of pictures. I would love to teach these kids how to edit to define what they want to say. I once had an argument with an English teacher about music. I felt that it was less than literature and he pointed out to me that music was a language as powerful as prose. He changed my mind. The same is true about visual language. Photography seems easy but without editing it is noise.

The photograph is by Bill Brandt, an amazing artist.

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